Trail of the lost The relentless search to bring home the missing hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail

Andrea Lankford

Book - 2023

"From an award-winning former law enforcement park ranger and investigator, this female-driven true crime adventure follows the author's quest to find missing hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail by pairing up with an eclectic group of unlikely allies"--

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

2 / 2 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 363.2336/Lankford Checked In
2nd Floor 363.2336/Lankford Checked In
Informational works
Documents d'information
New York : Hachette Books 2023.
Main Author
Andrea Lankford (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xviii, 327 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 325-327).
  • Author's Note
  • Maps
  • Introduction
  • Part 1. Points Last Seen
  • 1. An Antidote to the Ills of Civilization
  • 2. Without Compass: The Case of Chris Sylvia
  • 3. The Things They Carry
  • 4. Border Fever: The Case of Kris Fowler
  • 5. Lucky Dave: The Case of David O'Sullivan
  • 6. Dots on a Map
  • Part 2. Search and Investigate
  • 7. Welcome to the Club
  • 8. The Man in Brazil
  • 9. The Volunteer
  • 10. Hiker Box
  • 11. Search Planning
  • 12. Exposed
  • 13. By Land and by Screen
  • Part 3. Fact and Theory
  • 14. Predator
  • 15. Cult Farmers
  • 16. Weird Science
  • 17. Fracture
  • 18. Blue Eyes at the Yellow Deli
  • 19. Signs
  • 20. Fire
  • 21. The King of Trail Trolls
  • Part 4. Witness and Clue
  • 22. Greenwater
  • 23. Voluntary
  • 24. Unis Testis
  • 25. Smoke and Feathers
  • 26. Magical Thinking
  • 27. The Bone Finders
  • 28. From the Mud
  • 29. Accept. Learn. Let Go.
  • Afterword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Selected Bibliography
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Former National Park Service ranger Lankford (Ranger Confidential) provides a memorable account of her search for three young men who went missing along the 2,650-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail in successive years. In 2017, almost two decades after she retired from a 12-year stint with the park service, Lankford teamed up with amateur investigators seeking answers about the fates of Kris Fowler, David O'Sullivan, and Chris Silva, who were each attempting to hike the entire PCT in one year before they vanished from the same exact footpath in Washington State. Though every other missing hiker in the trail's 55-year history had been found, rigorous searches for the three men had turned up nothing. So Lankford and her team--including one victim's mother, a former pharmacy manager, and a cartographer--delve deep into less traditional search methods, such as scouring Facebook groups for information. Lankford excels at making the searches feel immediate, and asks incisive questions about how long is too long to pursue cold-case investigations ("Our dogged pursuit for answers jeopardized our livelihoods, our mental stamina, and our health," she writes). Readers expecting conclusive answers about the men's whereabouts will be disappointed, but this is a gripping real-life mystery. Agent: Andrea Blatt, WME. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A former park ranger chronicles her attempts to find missing hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Lankford spent 12 years as a National Park Service ranger specializing in rescue missions and investigations of missing hikers in some of the most scenic and remote places in the U.S. Eventual disillusionment with bureaucracy led her to quit. However, 20 years later, compelled by three separate cases of missing PCT hikers, she found herself unable to turn away despite the nearly impossible challenge. In one case, she entered a pursuit where "even after fifty professional searchers--some with dogs, some from the air--searched the area for five days, they found no sign of the missing hiker." Still, with the help of unlikely allies, including a government mapmaker who tracked potential terrorist activity, a retired pharmacy manager, and the mother of a missing hiker, Lankford canvassed countless miles of wilderness and maintained charts of relevant data. "The American wilderness is still vast and treacherous," she reminds us, while the clues were sparse and haunting: unreliable sightings months after disappearance, a blue backpack left trailside, a dog-eared copy of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha in a hiker free box. While looking for the missing hikers, the author was forced to contend with gun-protected illegal pot farms, a cult, exposed cliff sides, temperature extremes, poisonous snakes, and wild animals of all kinds. Off-trail, the pursuit involved examining information for reliability, skimming drone footage (called "squinting"), and the intricacies of missing persons groups on Facebook. In a book that is part true crime, part wilderness cautionary tale, Lankford follows the lost hikers with intensity and compassion. The narrative is paced well, and the author ably demonstrates the hardships of uncertainty and fear in the wake of the unknown. Most of all, she showcases the group's grit and determination in the pursuit of answers. A gut-wrenching and compelling investigation of long-distance treks gone wrong. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.